Dede Cummings holds a BA from Middlebury College in Literature where she was also a poetry contributor at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and was the recipient of the Mary Dunning Thwing Award. In 1991, she received an award to study with Hayden Carruth at the Bennington Writers' Workshop. Dede has had her poetry published in Mademoiselle magazine and Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. She was a Discovery/The Nation poetry semi-finalist, and currently writes in a salon hosted by the author Suzanne Kingsbury where she lives in Brattleboro, Vermont. Dede is a 2010 graduate of the Harvard Medical School's Department of Continuing Education course "Publishing Books, Memoirs and Other Creative Non-Fiction," under the direction of Julie Silver, M.D. Her first book, Living With Crohn's & Colitis: A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness, was published in 2010 by Hatherleigh Press and distributed by Random House. She is at work on a collection of her poetry and fiction, along with her day job, of being a book designer and literary agent for publishers. Dede is also a magazine and blog writer for such publications as Family Fun, PLoS Blog Obesity Panacea, and healthline.com. Her blog was a Wordpress "Poetry University" selection in 2011. Dede is also a public radio commentator for Vermont Public Radio/ VPR.net.
The ride down Bonnyvale is always swift, the barn and horses at Meg's farm
stare at the bike blur of me, cows down by Duttons snort as they lay down.
The bike whizzes by, and I am not really the rider at this early hour.
By Irene's house, I see she has her laundry out. The two reddish squares,
quilts hanging, are the equivalent of Tibetan prayer flags for me, as I note the date
that my father would have turned eighty-three. A cool snap is in the air.
Put the bike down, fossil from another era, fuel from a zero emission vehicle.
"Write what you know," Mr. Carruth's pipe hangs on his lower lip.
"Why don't you write me a poem that will prepare me for your death?"
So this is what I was thinking when I climbed the ladder
to the topmost branches of our apple tree. The red bruises stare out at me.
The tartness of the ripened fruit dries my mouth immediately, the picking
is what is worth doing, the straw basket by my side is weighted down,
the ache in my shoulder is a cause for celebration.
They kept their thoughts away from when the maples
Stood uniform in buckets, and the steam
Of sap and snow rolled off the sugarhouse.
—Robert Frost, Maple
Bought from a store where they know my name,
the auger is in my hand, gleaming red at the end,
I position myself to bore through the heavy bark—
"aborer, is my name," I tell my yellow hound who laps
the sun, the setting, the massive line of trees. Bark is my
legend, the drip of first sap is laden with anticipation
like the formulation of milk from the nipple,
the gathering into one drip, a moment—
where it hangs in the balance
—becoming the sweet
ball of crystal